Breaking down the Spartan hockey players who participated at the World Juniors

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USA Hockey

Some Spartan hockey players stepped away from East Lansing over winter break to compete in the IIHF World Juniors Tournament, representing various countries, and all four made a substantial impact through the tournament. Forward Isaac Howard and goaltender Trey Augustine took home the gold with Team USA; forward Tommi Männistö played for Team Finland; and defenseman Maxim Štrbák skated for Team Slovakia. Each player had a big impact on their team and the tournament as a whole. Here is a breakdown of each skater’s performance.

Isaac Howard:

Howard, who is sixth in the Big Ten conference averaging 1.11 points per game, continued his dominance in Sweden. In seven games, Howard has seven goals, two assists, and a plus-10 rating. He had two goals in the gold medal game to secure the win for his team and was named Player of the Game. He also was the star in a close matchup against Czechia. He had a goal in regulation and the shootout winner to seal the deal for the U.S. Howard played on the second line throughout the tournament with Michigan forwards Frank Nazar and Gavin Brindley. The three combined for a total of 27 points in the tournament, the most points of any U.S. line. The Tampa Bay first-round pick got his gold medal in his third and final appearance at the World Juniors. Howard is one of the team’s top scorers and will return to his spot on the top line with Karsen Dorwart and Daniel Russell. 

Trey Augustine:

To no surprise, Augustine carried his stellar play from the first half of the season into the World Juniors. As a player who has spent a lot of time at the World Juniors and with the USNTDP, Augustine was a player to watch heading into this tournament. He finished with a 4-0 record, stopping 103 of 110 shots sent his way, posting a final .936 save percentage, leading all the netminders in the tournament. Despite missing a game due to a stomach bug, Augustine never slowed down in Sweden with a 1.75 goals-against average. As a player who has made a huge impact for the Spartans in his true freshman campaign, he made just as much of a statement on the national stage. 

Maxim Štrbák

Štrbák led Slovakian defensemen with seven points. He was also one of the tournament’s assist leaders with six. The Buffalo Sabres second-round draft pick was playing team high minutes, playing 23 minutes in key games against Czechia and Switzerland. Štrbák’s father, Martin, was also the assistant coach of the team. Slovakia fell to Finland in the first round, but Štrbák’s performance was one he will be looking to bring into the second half of the season, skating with David Gucciardi. 

Tommi Männistö

Männistö, playing for his home country Finland, ended the tournament with three goals, and one assist. Known for his speed, the 18-year-old forward made some highlight reel plays over the tournament, including a goal in the overtime game against Slovakia (and fellow Spartan Maxim Štrbák) to go to the quarter-finals. Finland fell to the US in the quarter-finals and to Czechia in the bronze medal game. Männistö, with one goal and four assists for the Green and White, has been playing on a line with Tiernan Shoudy and Tanner Kelly and will be looking to continue to make an impact.

Michigan State heads to Penn State this weekend to face off against the Nittany Lions on Friday and Saturday.

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